FTSE edges higher as strong results from Reckitt boost investors’ mood

BRITAIN’S top share index edged higher yesterday, helped by consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser’s robust update, although traders said concerns over earnings would limit further moves higher.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up 0.1 per cent, or 6.87 points higher, at 5,804.78 points, recovering slightly from a 1.4 per cent fall on Tuesday.

Heavyweight stock Reckitt added the most points to the FTSE 100, with its shares rising 3.7 per cent after Reckitt bucked the trend of companies posting weak results by reporting higher sales.

“Reckitt has come in with some pretty good numbers, and that’s helped sentiment a little bit,” said Franklin Templeton fund manager Colin Morton, who holds Reckitt shares in his portfolio.

ARM also buoyed the FTSE, topping the index’s leaderboard with a 5.6 per cent rise as the chip designer continued its strong run after posting higher profits this week.

However, Morton said worries over weak company results and the faltering global economy meant he was favouring “defensive” stocks, such as utility or food companies seen as most resilient in a downturn, over “cyclical” equity sectors such as miners.

The FTSE 100 traded within a tight range yesterday of 47 points, and traders expressed reluctance over betting on bigger gains due to concerns over the difficult economic environment.

Transport group National Express slumped 12.6 per cent, making it the worst-performing stock on the FTSE 250 mid-cap index, after warning that 2013 would be challenging for the company.